A Wealthy Couple Cheated Indigenous Peoples In Canada Out Of COVID Vaccines
Cases of COVID-19 are drastically devastating Indigenous communities across the globe. In Western Canada, this truth is quite alarming particularly because of how the rates have vastly risen in these communities. In fact, according to Canada Public Health and Indigenous Services data, “The rate of reported cases of COVID-19 in First Nations living on reserve is currently 40% higher than the rate in the general Canadian population.” Even more shocking, “The COVID-19 case fatality rate among First Nations living on reserve is about one-third of the case fatality rate in the general Canadian population.”
Still, despite all of this a wealthy Canadian couple had the temerity to lie about their residency and occupation. All in an attempt to receive doses of the COVID-19 vaccine meant for First Nation residents.
A businessman and his actress wife chartered a private plane to Beaver Creek to get vaccinated.
Rodney Baker, 55, and his wife Ekaterina Baker, 32, flew out to the community in Whitehorse last week. Whitehorse consists of approximately 100 people, most of whom belong to the White River First Nation. Upon arrival, the Bakers allegedly told members of the mobile vaccination clinic that they were employees of the local motel. Once they received their shots they flew back to Whitehorse on their private plane.
The community became suspicious of the couple and someone eventually reported them to Yukon authorities. Investigating officers were able to track the couple down at the Whitehouse airport according to Yukon’s Minister of Community Services John Streicker.
The Bakers are now facing two charges under Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act.
The charges include failure to self-isolate and failure to abide by a travel declaration. Yukon, where White River First Nation is located, has had a low number of cases per capita compared to the rest of Canada. Anyone who enters the area is supposed to requires anyone entering the territory to quarantine for 14 days.
According to VICE, “The maximum possible penalty under the act is $500 plus a $75 surcharge per charge—meaning a maximum of $1,150 each—and/or up to six months in jail.”
News of the couple’s actions has led to Rodney Baker’s resignation as CEO of the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. According to VICE, “Baker’s former position netted him $10.6 million in salary and compensation in 2019.”
In a statement about the incident, White River Chief Angela Demit said that she was “deeply concerned by the actions of individuals who put our Elders and vulnerable people at risk to jump the line for selfish purposes.” Demit went onto underline the fact that the First Nation community was selected for priority vaccination because of “its high concentration of elderly people, limited access to healthcare, and remote location.”
The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer has described the Bakers’ “deception” as extremely selfish.
“It’s the height of selfishness,” Dr. Brendan Hanley said about their behavior.
In a statement about the incident, White River First Nation said in a press release that “White River First Nation is particularly concerned with the callous nature of these actions…as they were in blatant disregard of the rules which keep our community safe during this unprecedented global pandemic.” They also called the penalties that the couple will face insufficient.
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